Recap NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

This is the second time I have done something connected with NaNoWriMo. This past November I did the official NaNoWriMo, using it to complete the first draft of my manuscript. I started updating again on the NaNoWriMo site in January but did not continue. This time, with summer camp, I was able to complete it. I posted every day, averaging over three hours of work. This was great production because I had set the low bar of 1 hour every day, and I well exceeded that.

I would highly recommend NaNoWriMo for anyone who is looking for a way to both motivate and structure their writing process. Even though most of the materials are oriented towards fiction writing anybody can take the process and make it their own.

I have given a lot of thought to how to maintain the accountability that NaNoWriMo Summer Camp offered. Although this was the third time that I posted every day for a month, that is not something I want to continue. Once a week for my blog posts is usually plenty.

I hope to continue to work on the manuscript every day going forward but I am first going to take a two-week break. After that, starting Aug. 14, I plan to continue to update my progress on the NaNoWriMo site, and tweet about my output every day, using the hash tag #accountabiltiy. On Sundays, I plan to have short posts about my work production for the previous week. So I do not burden myself with overly elevated expectations, I am making a commitment to work one hour every day, a total of 1,680 words in the four week period.

On Fridays, I will have regular weekly post about a variety of subjects. I will resume this on August 19th. My first Sunday blog about revision will be August 21st with a note about my first week of this self-initiated process. I hope to sustain these activities for four weeks, twenty-eight days, ending on Sept. 10 as far as NaNoWriMo updating is concerned and my final Sunday post on September 11.

This is just a plan, and we will see if I can stick to it. Hopefully all the structures I am trying to put in place will keep me focused and motivated.

Day 31 – Last Day of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

Today is both the last day of July and the last day of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. I worked almost 2 hours. A while ago, I had someone read the whole manuscript and they gave me both line level comments and big picture conceptual comments on every chapter.

The last few days I have been going through those comments for one of the chapters. It is a slow process, and I am worried that it will take a long time. Since Summer Camp is over, I will have to figure out how to continue to make progress on the revision of the manuscript.

Tomorrow I will post my reflections about how I feel NaNoWriMo summer camp went and tell you what my plans are for accountability and continued work on my book

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 30

One more day to go. I worked for two and a half hours, revising the chapter on activist faculty wives. It is slow going but I do think I am improving the manuscript. Ironically, I am adding as much as I am cutting. That may be an exaggeration, but there are places that need amplification while other parts need shortening or elimination. My revision class teacher, Kate, said that revision is not just cutting, and she was right. Tomorrow, I will continue working on this chapter. I also plan to go swimming. Self-care is important.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 27

I am continuing with my attempts at reorganization. I also attended a Zoom presentation on “Academic Publishing” and virtually  met with one of my revision classmates.  All of these activities totaled 206 minutes. I have averaged, so far, 110 minutes a day.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 26

Today I did a little bit of everything in two separate spurts. The first hour I looked at two inter-library loan books I have, read some of Tell IT Slant, and wrote a query to the University of Minnesota Press.

The second hour, I continued with my attempts at reorganization, taking two chapters that are about clubs at two separate institutions and reassembling them. The new structure would have one chapter about Dames and their national organization, the National Association of University Dames. The other chapter would be about faculty wives clubs and some of their activities. I also updated my working outline to reflect these changes.

It was a productive day, but I am happy there are only a few days left to NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. This has been a difficult pace to keep up and I am glad I will be being taking a few days off from the project in the beginning of August. I will explain my plans for maintaining accountability as we get a little closer to the end of the moth.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 25

Today is the start of the final week of NaNoWriMo. I procrastinated  and I have a doctor’s appointment, so I only worked for the minimum of 60 minutes.

I spent the time working on the new chapter I created yesterday “Choices”. I am trying to keep the chapter tightly focused on providing examples of the different options available to faculty wives in the late 19th and 20th century.

I am pleased with the work I did today and, hopefully, that will continue tomorrow. Wish me luck.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 23

Today I worked a little over two hours. I now have two outlines. One would be all the chapters I went through and did revision via quotes. I would need an introduction and a conclusion. The other outline has two new chapters.

After I wrote up the outlines, I started looking through all my previous drafts for whatever I have already written about sexuality and intimacy. I have mixed feelings about this process. I wonder if I am just making busy work for myself and retreating to my comfort zone of research. Research is easier than either writing or revision. Writing is easier than revision.

I may continue down the potential rabbit hole of intimacy for another day or so. Now I am off to Jacob’s Pillow to see a dance performance.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 4

Today’s time/word count is the same as yesterday. – 110 minutes/words. The main issue I am facing as I try to revise the manuscript is the structure of the book and if I need to change it or not.

From 2008 to 2018, I wrote two hundred pages of the book with a chronological structure, starting in the late nineteenth century and intending to end it somewhere in the 21st. I eventually decided I disliked that structure because many of the stories became disjointed.

When I resumed writing in 2015, I envisioned a more thematic approach, with complete stories in individual chapters. I planned to have several “anchor” chapters that would provide a broader context for the various stories.

I did write one “anchor” chapter, which is currently the first chapter of the manuscript. I then abandoned that structure and continued to write the more thematically based chapters with complete stories.

I now realize the manuscript is a mish mash of the two different organizing principles. This is what I must resolve, and I am not finding it easy to do.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

As promised, here’s my post about my plans for July. I am going to give NaNoWriMo another try. This month is NaNoWriMo summer camp, and I have committed to working an hour a day on my book every day in July. Because each minute equals a word, if I do what I plan to do, at the end of the month I will have 1860 words.

Although the manuscript has some overall issues that I need to address, I find that too overwhelming to tackle immediately. I have been working on revising chapter one and that is what I am going to continue to do, using some of the craft tools that I have learned while attending the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop eight-week revision class. Hopefully I can get complete the revision of chapter one and start working on chapter 2 within the month of July. My other hope is that by being so focused for 31 days the focus and concentration will carry over to the subsequent months and I will really make progress on the revision of my manuscript.

As far as blogging goes, I plan to do what I did in November when I was doing NaNoWriMo. I will have short posts every day of the month telling my loyal readership what I have accomplished for the day.

Before posting this, I completed 90 minutes of work on my book. That counts as 90 words.  I hope I have a very productive July and I wish the same for all of you.

 

Bad Presidents

Since I am watching the Jan 6 hearings and realizing yet again what a terrible president Donald J. Trump was, I have decided to post an excerpt from my dissertation, The Politics Of Alcohol Production: The Liquor Industry and the Federal Government, 1862 – 1900. This section deals with another one of our terrible presidents, Andrew Johnson.

In 1866 President Andrew Johnson, in an attempt to consolidate support for his Reconstruction policies and also with the hope of building a new political party consonant with his goals, began to use the considerable amount of patronage power available to him. Although clearly documented evidence of fraud and a obvious need for reform existed, these issues took a back seat to the political needs of Andrew Johnson, as well as those of his political opponents.

Both sides in the Reconstruction controversy desired to place “loyal” people in government jobs. The Treasury Department played a critical role in these plans since it had the second most patronage slots in the government. By replacing federal officials Johnson attempted to coerce adherence to his vision of Reconstruction. To avoid dismissal many employees maintained neutrality. The Tenure of Office Act of 1867, designed to prevent arbitrary dismissal of officials without Senate consent, helped these workers to feel more secure. Designed to protect middle level workers the law did not resolve the issue of removal of department heads.[1]

Andrew Johnson’s main target was the Treasury Department; however Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch refused to dismiss Republicans summarily. His steadfast support of Assistant Secretary William Chandler, disliked by other members of the Cabinet, reflected McCulloch’s desire to keep the staffing of the Treasury impartial.  McCulloch, writing in 1900, claimed the Assistant Secretary was “one of the few radical Republicans who did not permit their party allegiance to blind them to the merits of Andrew Johnson.” In a discussion with President Johnson Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles expressed a different point of view, claiming that McCulloch “had committed a great error in retaining Rollins, Chandler, and other Radicals . . .”[2]

The Secretary’s “neutrality” extended in the other direction of the political spectrum. McCulloch, a banker from Indiana, believed in an easy, swift restoration of the Southern states and a liberal interpretation of the Test Oath. McCulloch maintained that many competent Southerners would be excluded form revenue offices because they could not swear they had not taken part in the Rebel cause. After Cabinet discussion people who “could only take an oath for the faithful performance of their duties and obedience to the Constitution of the United States” held positions in the Bureau of Internal Revenue.[3]

Many people found Mcculloch’s hard-money fiscal policies unappealing; this added to the controversy surrounding the Secretary. McCulloch, however, remained loyal both to the President and a smooth running Treasury Department. On a practical level the Secretary and Commissioner divided the appointments to distribute patronage to both sides. This did not really satisfy anyone and certainly didn’t generate an efficient workforce.  Rollins, in his annual reports endorsed the concept of civil service for the Bureau of Internal Revenue yet nothing was less likely to happen.[4]

Through most of 1867 and 1868, Reconstruction and the impeachment proceedings preoccupied  Johnson, his cabinet, and Congress. During this time McCulloch stood loyally by the President. Still Johnson received several letters pleading with him to remove both McCulloch and Rollins.

“I now implore you to bring this worst, because he is most sly and deceitful of all your enemies, McCulloch to the Test.

Demand of him the resignation of Rollins, let him know that if he has not sufficient power over his subordinate, to get his resignation, that you will accept his resignation.”

As McCulloch has complete control over Rollins this will bring his resignation, as he is now trembling over his Printing Bureau and wants to remain to cover the stupendous defalcations that exist there.”[5]

The attempt to convict Johnson did not succeed and, as far as most historians are concerned, there is nothing to say about his administration after that point. However Andrew Johnson was still President and retained the prerogatives, albeit reduced, of the office. Much of Johnson’s behavior from his inauguration as Chief Executive was oriented towards running for the Presidency in his own right. His drive to create a new party failed and by June 1868 Johnson concentrated his efforts on winning the Democratic nomination. The President was however anathema to most politicians and in July the Democratic party nominated Horatio Seymour and Francis P. Blair Jr. as President and Vice-President. Bitterly disappointed Johnson still sought some degree of vindication for his policies. In an attempt to achieve this, the President turned to the arena his supporters had continuously urged him to investigate, the Bureau of Internal Revenue.[6]

[1]Michael Les Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (New York, 1973), pp. 39 – 40, 48 – 51.

[2] Hugh McCulloch, Men and Measures of Half A Century (New York, 1900), p. 236. William Chandler was not a Radical but he was a staunch and partisan Republican who consistently opposed Civil Service Reform.

[3] William Henry Smith, History of the Cabinet of the United States of America (Baltimore, 1925), p. 219; McCulloch, Men and Measures, p. 227.

[4]Herbert S. Schell, “Hugh McCulloch and the Treasury Department, 1865-1869,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 27 (December 1930): 413-416; Hugh McCulloch to Andrew Johnson, 19 August 1867, Andrew Johnson Presidential Papers, Library of Congress, microfilm edition; U.S. Office of Internal Revenue. Annual Report of the Commissioner, 1867, pp. xv-xviii, xxxi; U.S. Treasury Department, Annual Report of the Special Commissioner, 1867, p. 31; U.S. Treasury Department, Annual Report of the Special Commissioner, 1866 p. 4. See also the report of the Revenue Commission for a discussion of civil service reform.

[5] R.W. Latham to Andrew Johnson, 6 February 1868, 24 January 1868,  Andrew Johnson  Papers.

[6] Albert Castel, Andrew Johnson (Kansas, 1979), passim; Eric McKitrick, Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (Chicago, 1960), passim.

© All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce without author’s permission. Amy Mittelman 2022.

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